OOA Works to Combat Misinformation about DOs

Leadership Issues Statement to Set the Record Straight

(October 16, 2020) OOA President Sandra L. Cook, DO, issued the following statement:

With President Trump’s recent COVID-19 diagnosis, there’s been increased attention on osteopathic physicians and, unfortunately, much of it has been misinformation. Inaccuracies have been rampant on social media, in traditional media, and on broadcast channels. The spotlight on White House Physician Sean Conley, DO, has wrongly resulted in mischaracterizations of the entire osteopathic medical profession.

To be clear, only DOs and MDs have unrestricted licenses. Doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) attend four years of medical school and train for 3-7 years as a resident, depending on their specialty, before becoming a practicing physician. The same is true for allopathic physicians (MDs).

In Ohio, DOs and MDs are also required to obtain at least 50 hours of continuing medical education (CME) every two years to maintain licensure. In fact, DOs were the first medical practitioners to require CME as a condition of re-licensure back in the 1940s. There are additional requirements for board certification. While DOs and MDs are educated at different medical schools, they are treated equally in statute, rules, and credentialing.

Osteopathic medicine is a separate and distinctive philosophy and practice of medicine and wellness. The osteopathic approach emphasizes physician-patient relationships; prioritizes prevention and wellness; and considers a patient’s environment, beliefs, and values in their diagnosis, treatment, and care. One of the tenets of the profession stresses the body is a unit—made up of body, mind, and spirit. This holistic approach is exactly what our patients have come to expect.

There are over 7,000 licensed DOs in Ohio practicing a variety of medical specialties. And it is a growing profession, increasing 63% in the past decade and nearly 300% over the past three decades. One-quarter of all medical students nationwide attend an osteopathic medical school. In Ohio, the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine at Ohio University, with campuses in Athens, Dublin, and Cleveland, graduates 1,000 physicians every four years.

The bottom line is DOs are fully qualified physicians who may practice in any field of medicine and are one of only two groups of health care providers with unrestricted medical licenses.

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